Recovery, relapse, and episodes of default in the management of acute malnutrition in children in humanitarian emergencies: A systematic review

This systematic review, commissioned by the Humanitarian Evidence Programme (HEP) and carried out by a research team from the University of Sheffield, represents the first attempt to apply systematic review methodology to establish the relationships between recovery and relapse and between default rates and repeated episodes of default or relapse in the management of acute malnutrition in children in humanitarian emergencies in low- and middle-income countries

  • the relationship between recovery and relapse; and between relapse and default or return default/episodes of default in children aged 6–59 months affected by humanitarian emergencies
  • reasons for default and relapse or return defaults/episodes of default in children aged 6–59 months affected by humanitarian emergencies.

Severe acute malnutrition (SAM, or severe wasting) and moderate acute malnutrition (MAM, or moderate wasting) affect 52 million children under five years of age around the globe. This systematic review seeks to establish whether there is a relationship between recovery and relapse or a relationship between default rates and/or repeated episodes of default or relapse following treatment for SAM and MAM in children aged 6–59 months in humanitarian emergencies. The review also seeks to determine the reasons for default and relapse in the same population.

The systematic review, together with corresponding executive summary and evidence brief, forms part of a series of humanitarian evidence syntheses and systematic reviews commissioned by the Humanitarian Evidence Programme. Other reports in the series review the evidence on interventions or approaches to mental health, child protection, market support and household food security, acute malnutrition, pastoralist livelihoods, shelter self-recovery and urban response.

The Humanitarian Evidence Programme is a partnership between Oxfam GB and the Feinstein International Center at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University. It is funded by the United Kingdom (UK) government’s Department for International Development (DFID) through the Humanitarian Innovation and Evidence Programme.